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How to loosen up tight muscles
Tight muscles are a common complaint. Your body can respond to worrying situations and anxious thoughts with muscle tension. As everyday stress builds up, your muscles tend to tighten up, which can add to your distraction and stress. Long-term and constant muscle tension can have all sorts of unpleasant consequences, from moodiness through headaches to sleeping and heart problems. By incorporating the following techniques and habits into your daily routine, you will ensure optimum recovery and feel your best for every workout.
Relax, it is important!
Life can get pretty full on sometimes, and when it does, it is important that you know how to deal with it. When pressures are being thrown your way, relaxation is a really effective tool for looking after your health, both physical and mental. All it takes is a little bit of time each day to put your feet up and you will be benefiting your wellbeing in more ways than one.
Different relaxation techniques work better for different people. Do not be afraid to try all of them to see which ones appeal to you most. Progressive muscle relaxation––also known as deep muscle relaxation––is a mind-body exercise that involves concentrating on different muscle groups as you contract then relax all of major muscle groups in the body, beginning with head, neck, arms, chest, back, stomach, pelvis, legs and feet. To do this exercise, focus on each set of muscles, tense these muscles to the slow count of 10, then release them slowly to the count of 10. Along with progressive muscle relaxation, it is important to perform the deep abdominal breathing: breathing in while tensing the muscles, and breathing out or exhaling while relaxing them. Focusing all attention on what you feel from moment to moment, can help you move beyond destructive habits as you become centred in a world of health and inner peace.
Build stronger muscles
After focusing on flexing and releasing, you may realize that some muscles could use strengthening. Whether you use dumbbells, machines, resistance bands, or your own body weight, strength-building can help you stay one step ahead of stress. Lean body mass (that is muscle, not fat) makes your blood pressure normal more quickly after a stressful event, and that takes a load off of your heart and arteries, especially when you think you have more work than time or more problems than solutions.
We have all suffered from the soreness associated with an overly exuberant exercise session. But did you know that most people experience neck, back and muscle pain from another less-strenuous activity? Surprisingly, it is sitting. Chronic back pain, which is the second most common cause of disability and a top reason for missing work, can be the result of improper posture while sitting and standing.
Additionally, carrying extra weight, poor posture, and repetitive or overuse movements can put strain on the back and other sensitive areas. This strain often results in spasms, tense muscles and pain in your upper back, hips and hamstrings.
Massage increases circulation, friction, and thus heat in the muscle fibres, helping the muscles and surrounding tissues become more liquid. Soft tissues of the body are kind of like gelatine, in that they become more dense and congealed when cold, and more fluid when warm. This is the reason athletes “warm up” before exercising. Stretching creates friction and heat, giving the muscles more mobility.
If muscles are locked up or spasming, pressure will actually interrupt the signal that is sent to the muscles that make it tense up. You have experienced this if you have ever had a leg cramp and applied pressure directly to the belly of the muscle to get it to release. Alternating flexion and extension also interrupts the signal.
If there is trauma in the muscle, like scar tissue, deeper pressure can help stretch and smooth out those issues, allowing more flexibility.
There are also other causes of muscle tension, such as scarring of the tissues that surround the muscles, tearing of the muscles, misalignment of the spine, overuse, etc. Physio-Medicine’s qualified physiotherapist will isolate the cause of the problem before applying the appropriate techniques to alleviate the tension.
Working out can be a pain—literally. Challenging your body with cardio and resistance training can strain and tighten your muscles, making you feel stiff and sore. And it is not just exercise that can give you aches and pains—repetitive strain injury from typing on a keyboard or postural imbalances from prolonged slouching at a computer desk can also lead to muscle discomfort and restricted motion.
Acupuncture can be used not only to treat a number of diseases, but also for muscle relaxation. This traditional Chinese medicine treats painful “adhesions” where scar tissue has formed in your muscles, ligaments and surrounding tissue. Your circulation gets a boost, endorphins decrease pain and muscles relax, resulting in improved range of motion, function and performance.
Our Physiotherapists know all the target pressure points in the body and will focus on those that will relax the muscles that need it most. Positive results usually begin following the first acupuncture treatment, where muscles feel relaxed and movement tends to be less effortful and restricted.
You can easily add simple dietary methods to your daily routine to support muscle relaxation. Green tea contains a number of antioxidants that serve to eliminate free radicals that have harmful effects on your body. By reducing the damage to your muscle tissue, you will not need as much recovery time and can hit the weights harder, sooner. To fully reap the benefits of this herbal beverage, include a cup or two of green tea in your daily diet.
Another dietary supplement that aids in nerve signalling, as well as muscle contraction and relaxation, is magnesium. This can be taken either in supplemental form or obtained from foods rich in magnesium, such as brown rice, spinach, almonds, and peanuts.